amaze plus size magazine
 

DREAM STORIES
by madeline figueroa


plus size dancing

The Canadian ballet scene has been changing as a result of passionate and inspiring dancers like Amber Barton, Karissa Barry and Caroline Fitzner. Choreographer and dancer Amber Barton has been dancing since the young age of 4. Her mother put her in dance because she was pigeon toed.  Not having pointed feet and arches like most dancers did not stop Amber from pursuing her passion for dance. She met her physical limitations head on. “It’s been a struggle to finally understand my body and how to get the most out of it, instead of giving up because I don’t look pretty” says Barton. 

Caroline “Lina” Fitzner took a workshop with a modern dance teacher and it was the most encouraging and inspiring experience she had ever had with dance.  It was then that she decided to pursue dance seriously. This serious commitment to dance was not an easy decision. “I really was unsure in my high school years; I wanted to have more of a social life. I was also contemplating going to a university for science study and dancing took up a lot of extra time.”

Karissa Barry began taking creative movement classes at the tender age of 4. Her mother, a jazz and tap dancer, simply wanted to expose her daughter to ballet to see if she seemed interested. Seventeen years later Karissa can look back on that very day and say she was “intrigued”. 

By adding modern dance, jazz and a little “dash” of hip hop to traditional ballet these women are captivating audiences. This type of dance has allowed them freedom to be who they are both physically and emotionally. They are able to concentrate on their skills, expression and their love of dance rather than worry about meeting physical attributes. The importance of “body image” is introduced very early on in the dance world “…Because of it being so accepted in the world I was in, it wasn’t viewed as unhealthy to not eat as much as you should,” explains Karissa.

Once exposed to the world of contemporary dance, Karissa says, she saw many different body types, different shapes and sizes. Bodies that weren’t “perfect” by classical ballet standards, but toned, muscular and beautiful. Amber remembers the fond memories of dance school as well as the “ugly” side. “It’s difficult not to be hard on yourself when you’re standing in front of the mirror all day in a bodysuit and tights.” Amber explains that it was not until she stopped caring and focused on training and dancing that exciting things began to happen.

Each one of these women came to a pivotal point when they faced the decision to meet their obstacles head on. Whether it was choosing to walk away from attending a university and a 9 to 5 career or choosing to face the very body conscious world of dance, these women’s individual actions have led them to become pioneers.

Their advice to aspiring young dancers is simple “If you really want to dance, then DO IT!” Educate yourself as to companies and repertoire so you can make educated decisions. Know exactly what your goals are and what it is you want to do. Knowledge is power.

I want to personally thank Amber, Lina and Karissa for sharing their story with me and the AmaZe team wishes you well as you perform across Canada in 2006.

about madeline figueroa

Maddy hails from a close-knit NYC family and started her plus size modeling career in BBW Magazine. In early 2003 Figueroa was selected to appear as the spokesmodel for the "Hips, Heels & Curves" Fashion Show, continuing on to casting director for the Dangerous Curves 2003/2004 Tour. She most recently appeared on a fashion segment for Aqui Y Ahora for Univision and currently serves as a modeling moderator for the www.VenusDivas.com community. Maddy also wears the hat of stylist for up and coming models in the New York City area and resides in Battery Park, NYC with her husband & photographer, Luke, and their cat.

maddy figueroa

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Copyright 2006 Venus Imaging, LLC